January 20, 2016 453
What is the theory behind Atkins Diet?
The basic idea behind this diet is to slowly and thus increasingly reduce the amount of carbohydrate (carbs) a person takes in.
Dr. Atkins, who formulated this diet, said “there are crucial unrecognized factors in our eating habits which make us fat. The main factor that causes us to put on weight is our consumption of refined carbs, especially sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and flour.”
What happens when one is on the Atkins Diet?
When on this diet, the body's metabolism changes from using up glucose for fuel to burning up the stored body fat - this process is called ketosis. When our glucose levels are low, our insulin levels are also low. Ketosis begins when the insulin levels are low. This helps the body to switch to using its own stored fat as an energy source.
Now, normally, our insulin levels are low when glucose level is low just before we eat. Once we eat a meal, the glucose level rises and this triggers a rise in insulin level. Refined carbohydrates are filled with glucose and this enters our blood very quickly.
There are other types of carbohydrates as well, these are referred to as "good carbs" and do not have such a high influence on the level of glucose in blood when compared to refined carbs. When ketosis occurs, some of the fat stored in fat cells is transferred to the blood (a process called lipolysis).
Dr Atkins says that a diet that is low in carbs does trigger a metabolic advantage - the body tends burns more calories than it usually would when on any other diet. Also, it is seen that due to this metabolic advantage, the body can also get rid of some unused calories.
What does a typical Atkins meal look like?
A typical Atkins meal consists of the following:
Breakfast - Fried egg and bacon. Plus a cup of decaff coffee with single cream.
Lunch - Chicken breast topped with melted mozzarella and 170g mixed lettuce leaves tossed with olive oil.
Dinner - 8oz pan-fried rump steak served with 80g spinach topped with soured cream.
Snack - 2 slices ham.
- 1245 calories
- 75g fat (of which 34g saturates)
- 129g protein
- 6g carbohydrates
- 4g fibre
So, is it all good with this diet? Are there no disadvantages of eating a low-carb, high fat diet?
While talking of the advantages, my friend does nod in affirmation that she had lost quite a bit of weight in about 2 months – this is what many people following Atkins diet also say. People said they felt a lot more energetic than they normally do. Now that is encouraging to hear. Dr Atkins also says that people who continue on this diet will be able to maintain their weight loss, achieve great health and also fall sick much lesser. This diet could work well for people who are allergic to certain food items such as wheat, grains etc. All this sounds great!
However, there are a few drawbacks with this diet.
1. Insomnia – due to the lack of carbs in the diet, people tend to become insomniac during their initial days on the diet. It tends to continue for some time before the sleep routine sets in as before.
2. Some people complained of nausea and headaches while on this diet.
3. The diet is predominantly for people who can eat meat (non-vegetarian food) so it slightly is limiting when it comes to vegetarian dieters.
4. There is some controversy about the high amount of saturated fats in the diet – now whether this paves way for other diseases is not known.
5. Dieters could end up being low on calcium after this diet, and this could lead to osteoporosis.
So with all these disadvantages, it is seen that people tend to not continue with the diet for long. They follow a medium diet which lets them eat well-balanced meals keeping the carbohydrate content to a slightly low level.
So what diet do you follow? Have you been on the Atkins diet? What are your thoughts about it?
Disclaimer – people with Diabetes, Atkins diet will not help, please ask your physician for a healthy diet prescription. ALl those who wish to work on their weight, consult your doctor and make an informed decision.
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by Hridya Anand
A biochemist by education who could never put what she studied to good use, finally found GetDoc as a medium to do what she loved - bring information to people using a forum that is dedicated to all things medical. View all articles by Hridya Anand.